Sion Irwin-Childs used the past, the present and fantasy to create a tale of adventure set in Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia, and he’ll be reading from his book at upcoming events.
Foxfyre tells a story of a courageous cat, a clever fox, majestic horses, dancing chickens, and a goat who was once a man.
“Foxfyre is from the story, used in some Scandinavian cultures, about where the northern lights come from,” said Irwin-Childs. “Snowflakes are flicked up by the fox’s tail and create the northern lights.”
This is the first book written by Irwin-Childs, who is a choreographer and has spent much of the last four years working in Truro, with Cobequid Dance Academy, and Charlottetown.
“I wanted to create a book that could be performed, and this is written in three acts and designed to be read out loud,” he said. “I wanted people to be able to bring the characters to life, and to create an opportunity for a stage production.”
Irwin-Childs, who has an English degree from York University, wrote the story between the fall of 2017 and the spring of 2018. He tried to hire emerging artists to create the illustrations for the book, but plans fell through. Although he hadn’t worked on illustrating in the past, he does have a degree in sculpture, and he decided to try to create the images himself. His illustrations, in rich colours, have a magical, dreamlike quality.
“The characters are animals, or transform into animals, and they come to Truro during the Long John Festival,” he said. “The festival will be taking place when I do my readings in Truro, so I’ve got my long johns ready.
Irwin-Childs used his own animals as models for some of the characters. The cat, Gracie, is named after his own cat, and both ended up in a new place after jumping on a wagon. There are also Icelandic horses, which he has at home, in the book.
“I chose the fox because I loves foxes,” he said. “They have a huge capacity for play, and I find joy in that.
“I chose red because of the connection with soil, foxes, fall leaves, squirrels, red long johns, Anne of Green Gables… “
Irwin-Childs is currently living in Ontario and plans to relocate to Prince Edward Island later this year.
Sion Irwin-Childs will be reading from Foxfyre:
Saturday, Feb. 16 at 2:30 p.m. at the Halifax Central Library
Monday, Feb. 18 at 11 a.m. at the Colchester Historeum
Tuesday, Feb. 19 at 4 p.m. at the Truro branch of the Colchester-East Hants Library
Thursday, Feb. 21 at 7 p.m. at the Confederation Centre Art Gallery in Charlottetown